The first day of January is traditionally the day when many birders like to get out in the field and start their year lists, little did everybody know how short-lived this freedom would be this month. Those who got out early in the month were able to see 25 Tundra Bean Geese at Wenhaston, present since the 7th December their stay in to 2021 lasted just two days. Other sightings of Tundra Bean Geese during the month came from Minsmere and Dunwich on the 9th, where 7 were tracked flying north. European White-fronted Geese reports came from the Blyth estuary with 28 on the 7th and Reydon with 25 on the 29th, the biggest counts by far though were c650 at North Warren on the 15th and presumably the same flock at Aldeburgh town marshes on the 25th and 30th. On the 1st a flock of 100 Pink-footed Geese were observed flying in off the sea at Benacre, another 2 birds discovered at Aldringham on the 3rd remained util the 28th at least. A solitary Pale-bellied Brent Goose was observed on Aldeburgh town marshes on the 30th. Winter swans were mostly reported from coastal sites, maximum counts were 8 Whooper swans west over Wrentham on the 2nd and a maximum of 4 at Minsmere during the month, Bewick’s swans were reported from Minsmere and Hinton with a maximum of 4 at both sites, further inland another 4 were at Gillingham on the 19th. The Long-tailed Duck at Covehithe Broad extended its stay in to 2021 remaining until the months end at least, another two were seen on the sea at Dunwich on the 9th. 6 Velvet Scoter were seen offshore at Dunwich on 2nd with a single bird being seen with c250 Common Scoter at the same place on the 6th. The now regular flock of wintering Goosanders in the Thorpeness/Minsmere area peaked at 15 on Thorpeness mere on the 4th, the only other species of sawbill duck reported was a Smew at Minsmere on the 31st.
A Red-necked Grebe was discovered on the south scrape at Minsmere on the 22nd and remained until the end of the month, this species is far from annual in north-east Suffolk these days. Much more regular in the area now is Glossy Ibis, one frequented the flooded marshes at Barsham on the 25th and 26th. Great Egrets were reported from a few sites on several days with the maximum count being 3 at Dunwich. Traditional winter raptors were very thin on the ground this month, a few lucky observers caught up with Hen Harrier, ring-tails being seen at Oulton Broad, Reydon, Walberswick and the Minsmere area whilst a male was at Aldeburgh marshes on the 15th. A juvenile Common Crane was at Walberswick on 8th before flying off north, it was seen later the same day flying north at Reydon and on the 9th was present at Rushmere. The only wader reports concerned Purple Sandpiper with 3 at Ness point, Lowestoft on the 3rd and a single at Southwold on the 11th-13th, Green Sandpipers at Blythburgh and Barsham and 2 Spotted Redshank at Dunwich on the 21st. A Great Skua was offshore at Dunwich on the 2nd whilst a first winter Iceland Gull was seen in the Lowestoft harbour and Lake Lothing areas very infrequently during the month, a 3rd calendar year Caspian Gull was at Minsmere on the 24th. The only report of Short-eared Owl was one at Minsmere on the 9th.
The male Eastern Yellow Wagtail continued to frequent Peto’s marsh at Carlton marshes on a few dates throughout the month, Water Pipits were also reported from here (3) and at Minsmere (2). A single Firecrest was seen at Aldeburgh on the 15th. Hawfinches were recorded on several dates around Sotterley and Ellough with c25 at the former on the 15th and c20 at the latter on the 18th. At Minsmere 5 Common Crossbills were seen on the 18th, further up the coast at Dunwich 8 Twite and 16 Snow Bunting were seen on the9th.